While the Chicago Bears haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the 2006 season, they are still a respected franchise, even if they’ve had it pretty rough lately. Obviously, there was the playoff appearance in 2020. Well, I guess you can call that an appearance, considering the New Orleans Saints dominated the games 21-9. But that’s neither here nor there.
The Bears can get back to that level of play, but they certainly have some kinks to work out, first. Justin Fields, most importantly, has given this fan base a sense of hope that they can get back to competing.
To get back to the playoffs, and compete at a high level, the Bears will need three players to be “as advertised” this year.
The Bears need three players to produce as expected in 2022
1. WR Darnell Mooney
After two good back-to-back seasons, Darnell Mooney is expected to have a bigger role with the Bears come August. Not to mention Allen Robinson is also not on the team anymore and will be chasing a championship with the Los Angeles Rams.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mooney finished with an overall grade of 74.7 in 2021, while also finishing with 1,000 receiving yards. Having done what he did last year, and the situations that have happened, Mooney will be expected to replicate that season. Mooney will need to have a season ‘as advertised’ to help the Bears get back to where they want to be.
With Robinson out of town, and Fields having a full year under his belt now, Mooney will now need to do what he did last year or even better. It won’t be easy, but from the looks of it, Mooney can certainly do it.
2. TE Cole Kmet
The Bears third-year tight end is steadily improving. According to PFF, Cole Kmet finished with an overall grade of 58.7 in his rookie year. Last year, he upped that to 63.4 due to the amount of snaps he was getting.
Kmet is improving steadily and in a crucial year three he could potentially make a huge jump as a pass-catcher. He’ll have a lot more opportunities to showcase his skills in 2022 now that Allen Robinson is out of the picture. The Bears also didn’t make any significant wide receiver additions through free agency. Outside of the drafting of Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, the hierarchy of the Bears passing game is pretty obvious: Mooney, Kmet, David Montgomery, then whomever comes next.
Kmet can be that big field over the middle and safety valve that quarterbacks love and he’s an effective blocker, too. If Kmet takes the needed step forward in 2022, then the Bears passing game should take a step forward, too.
3. CB Jaylon Johnson
The third-year cornerback needs to prove that he’s still growing and improving like he did over the first two years of his career. Especially when considering the youth and inexperience in Bears secondary.
According to PFF, Johnsons grade from his rookie year improved from 54.9 to 64.2 last year, but he represents so much more than just a guy who can produce on the field. He’s going to have to step up and become a leader for this young secondary and he’s going to have to show the youngsters how to properly approach an NFL game.
But when it comes to on-field play, one can certainly argue that Johnson is the team’s best defensive back. And since has that moniker, he’s going to have to play like that. Or else the Bears defense might not improve as much as the Bears -and fans- hope in 2022.
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